The American John Waters (born April 29, 1946) is a filmmaker. He has long been known as a "bad boy" among filmmakers. John Waters is also a professor for cinema and subculture at the European Graduate School. Dubbed "the pope of trash" by writer William Burroughs, his earlier film works included Pink Flamingos, Female Trouble and Desperate Living, sometimes referred to as the Trash Trilogy. These films pushed hard at the boundaries of conventional propriety and movie censorship and indeed, many felt, good taste. A particularly notorious segment of Pink Flamingos featured transvestite actor Divine (real name Glen Milstead) eating fresh dog feces.
Mainly based in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, Waters tended to work with a regular team of actors (the Dreamlanders) who starred in most of his films, including Divine, Mink Stole, Cookie Mueller, Edith Massey, David Lochary, Mary Vivian Pearce and others. His early films were among the first picked up for distribution by New Line Cinema, most recently famous for The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Since 1981's Polyester, his films have become less controversial and more mainstream, although works such as Hairspray, Cry Baby and Serial Mom still retain his trademark inventiveness. The film "Hairspray" was turned into a hit Broadway Musical, which swept the 2003 Tony Awards.
John Waters filmography
Hag in a Black Leather Jacket (8 mm) 1964 (b&w) starring Mary Vivian Pearce, Mona Montgomery; 17 minutes.
Roman Candles (three 8 mm shown simultaneously) 1966 (color) starring Maelcum Soul, Bob Skidmore, Mona Montgomery, Divine, Mink Stole, Mary Vivian Pearce, David Lochary; 40 minutes
Eat Your Makeup (16mm) 1968 (b&w) starring Maelcum Soul, David Lochary, Marina Melin, Divine, Mary Vivian Pearce, Mona Montgomery; 45 minutes
Mondo Trasho (16mm) 1969 (b&w) starring Mary Vivian Pearce, Divine, David Lochary, Mink Stole; released through New Line Cinema; 95 minutes. $2,000 total cost
Multiple Maniacs (16mm) 1970 (b&w) starring Divine, David Lochary, Mary Vivian Pearce, Mink Stole, Edith Massey; released through New Line Cinema; 90 minutes. $5,000 total cost.
Pink Flamingos (16 & 35 mm) 1972 (color) starring Divine, David Lochary, Mary Vivian Pearce, Mink Stole, Danny Mills, Edith Massey; released through New Line Cinema; 93 minutes. $10,000. A re-edited version including extra scenes was released in 1997.
Female Trouble (16 & 35 mm) 1974 (color) starring Divine, David Lochary, Mary Vivian Pearce, Mink Stole, Danny Mills, Edith Massey; released through New Line Cinema; 92 minutes. $25,000. A re-edited version including extra scenes was released in 1997.
Desperate Living (16 & 35 mm) 1977 (color) starring Liz Renay, Mink Stole, Susan Lowe, Edith Massey, Mary Vivian Pearce, Jean Hill; released through New Line Cinema; 90 minutes. $65,000.
Polyester (35 mm) 1981 (color) starring Divine, Tab Hunter, Edith Massey, Stiv Bators, David Samson, Mary Garlington, Ken King, Mink Stole, Joni-Ruth White; released through New Line Cinema. This film was released in "odorama", which meant that a "scratch and sniff" card corresponding to moments in the film (eg, Divine farting) was issued to cinema goers.
Hairspray (35 mm) 1988 (color) starring Sonny Bono, Ruth Brown, Divine, Deborah Harry, Ricki Lake, Jerry Stiller, Ric Ocasek, Pia Zadora; released through New Line Cinema; 90 minutes. Waters' first true 'big budget' ($2,000,000) foray into 'the mainstream'.
Divine 1990 (color) starring Divine. Video release, 110 minutes. Two films on one video, both starring Divine and directed by Waters. The first is The Diane Linkletter Story, originally released in 1969. The second is The Neon Woman.
Cry-Baby (35 mm) 1990 (color) starring Johnny Depp, Amy Locane, Susan Tyrrell, Iggy Pop, Ricki Lake, Traci Lords, Kim McGuire, Stephen Mailer, Darren Burrows, Polly Bergen, Patricia Hearst, David Nelson, Troy Donahue, Mink Stole, Joe Dallesandro, Joey Heatherton, Willem Dafoe; released through Universal Studios; 85 minutes
Serial Mom (35 mm) 1994 (color) starring Kathleen Turner, Sam Waterston, Ricki Lake, Matthew Lillard, Scott Wesley Morgan, Walt MacPherson, Patricia Hearst. 93 minutes.
Pecker (35 mm) 1999 (color) starring Edward Furlong, Christina Ricci, Martha Plimpton, Brendon Sexton, and Lili Taylor. New Line Cinema 86 minutes.
Cecil B. DeMented (35mm) 2000 (color) starring Melanie Griffith, Stephen Dorff, Alicia Witt, Adrian Grenier, Larry Gilliard Jr., Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jack Noseworthy, Mink Stole, Ricki Lake, and Patricia Hearst. 87 minutes.
John Waters' life and work was analysed in the documentary homage Divine Trash (1998) by Steve Yeager, named after the actor Divine.